The victim of a notable metro-area theft is speaking out about how he says the justice system has let him down.
Months after police officers charged a suspect with stealing Chris Scott’s 25-foot tall inflatable Frankenstein decoration, Scott says without warning, prosecutors cut a deal with the suspect, who’s been in trouble for similar crimes in the past.
“I absolutely feel that I’ve been let down,” said Scott. “Crimes are being committed against folks and no justice is being served in their eyes.”
Operator of several metro-area “Spirit” Halloween stores, Chris Scott originally shared his story last fall after someone stole his unique Frankenstein blow-up figure, which was perched out front of the Cottonwood Mall.
“It was something that I didn’t want to lose,” said Scott.
After a large inflatable pumpkin was stolen from him earlier in the season, Scott rigged Frankenstein with a GPS tracker.
On Nov. 1, 2017, Scott noticed the tracker was on the move. He followed it to the home of Aaron Orosco in Rio Rancho.
While Orosco denied taking the Frankenstein, Rio Rancho Police said the 37-year old was recorded on nearby surveillance cameras unloading “a large item” into another car in front of his home.
Orosco was hit with two felony charges, including receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence. Records obtained by KRQE News 13 indicate that Orosco was summoned to court in Sandoval County.
“I was very adamant about following this case through because again, we’ve had so much property crime happen in our stores,” said Scott.
However, in late May Scott says he found out that the Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office cut a deal with Orosco. According to court documents obtained by KRQE News 13, the court agreed place Orosco into a “pre-prosecution diversion” (PPD) program.
“Diversion” programs are typically offered to suspects facing first time non-violent felony charges. The program forces people to abide by specific conditions like community service, employment, and drug and alcohol testing, in exchange for halting the court proceedings in their criminal case.
While suspects usually only get one shot at diversion, Orosco got a second shot. He was charged with shoplifting in 2012, but successfully completed a diversion program in that case.
Scott says he and prosecutors were aware of Orosco’s 2012 diversion. Scott says he was under the impression that prosecutors were going to take the case to trial.
“The pre-prosecution diversion program probably wasn’t effective for him the first time, and it probably won’t be effective this time either,” said Scott.
The Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office told KRQE News 13 Thursday that they were originally preparing to take the Frankenstein theft case to trial.
However, prosecutors claim shortly before the trial, they “lost contact” with the victim. Prosecutors say they opted to cut a deal instead of dropping the case because they couldn’t reach Scott.
“This is the first that I’m hearing this, and I find that statement to be very disingenuous,” said Scott, who learned of the “lost contact” reasoning from KRQE News 13 Thursday.
Scott doesn’t believe that the DA’s prosecutors ever tried to call him.
“I’ve had the same phone number since I was 16 years old,” said Scott. “Never changed my phone number, my address is the same, so I have no idea what they’re referencing.”
While Scott says he’s disappointed in the outcome of the case, he says he’s moving on.
“At the end of the day, there’s nothing that I can do, there’s nothing that you can do, it is what it is,” said Scott.
The Sandoval County DA’s Office also told KRQE News 13 that suspects typically get just one shot at a diversion program. However, the DA’s Office says there are rare exceptions, including this case, that allow for a second chance.